Esapekka Lappi will make a sensational return to the Toyota team at October’s Rally Finland round of the World Rally Championship.
The 30-year-old, pictured below after winning Rally Finland in 2017 in a factory Yaris WRC, will drive a fifth factory-specification car at his home event, joining regulars Sébastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans, Kalle Rovanperä and Takamoto Katsuta.
Lappi was unavailable for comment when contacted by DirtFish, but it is understood the team will communicate the news at the end of the week.
His place in the Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 he might have expected to drive at the October 1-3 event will be taken by Teemu Suninen, whose early exit from the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team was confirmed at the end of last week.
Lappi departed Toyota for Citroën in what was one of the more surprising moves at the end of the 2018 WRC season. A change in management at the top of this year’s championship-leading squad has opened the door for Lappi to return – he and team principal Jari-Matti Latvala are known to have enjoyed an open dialogue for much of the season.
Like Lappi, Latvala remained tight-lipped on Toyota’s five-car Jyväskylä effort – but his one-off 2021 outing is understood to be a precursor to a part-time return when he will share a car with Sébastien Ogier next season.
After leaving M-Sport at the end of last year, Lappi’s options looked limited, but a pair of stellar WRC2 wins on the Arctic Rally Finland and Rally Portugal have played him back into the frame for a Toyota return.
Suninen’s management will be hoping Lappi’s Movisport SRL-run car will have a similar effect on the 27-year-old’s career after a troublesome season involving a program split between a Ford Fiesta WRC and Fiesta Rally2.